Breakingviews

Would the ECB downgrade France?

June 29, 2012

The European Central Bank is toying with using its own credit assessments when taking sovereign collateral. That would mark a big and welcome step in curbing the power of the ratings agencies. But it’s questionable whether it could exercise judgment free from meddling.

The EU has only itself to blame for ratings mess

By Hugo Dixon
July 7, 2011

Europe has wasted many chances to neuter the power of credit ratings agencies. Instead they choose to fetishize them.

U.S. ABS standoff exposes rating contradictions

July 22, 2010

Ford Motor Credit and others have decided against selling asset-backed securities this week because credit raters are refusing to let bankers quote their ratings. The standoff exposes contradictions between America's old and new financial rules. But the kerfuffle also highlights the complexities of regulating ratings at all.

Heidelberg only half way home with bond deal

October 14, 2009

HeidelbergCement is grappling with its fearsome debt burden rather well. The heavily-indebted German building materials maker has increased its planned 1.5 billion euro bond deal by as much as a billion euros and extended the term of the new debt. That's a good move; showing Heidelberg has learned from the mistakes of the past. But far more will be needed before it's safe.

Break up the risk-rating cartel

October 1, 2009

The meltdown of America's financial system hasn't exactly been a testimonial to the efficacy of public-private partnerships. Indeed, those kinds of linkages were at the heart of the problem.

Don’t give life insurers an easy out

September 25, 2009

As G20 nations discuss ways to force banks to fatten their capital reserves, the U.S. life insurance industry is lobbying for the opposite. It wants capital requirements against soured mortgage bonds eased, and is using the current outcry against the rating agencies to argue its point. This sends the wrong message.